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Active cases decrease as residents receive first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Even though active coronavirus cases had been rapidly increasing this month, the numbers fell dramatically on Tuesday, according to the health department.

Stanly County health officials reported that the county had 518 active cases, a 45 percent decrease from Monday, when the county had 937 cases. The total is the lowest one-day count since Dec. 8, when there were 498 active cases.

With 3,998 total positive cases since March, the percentage of active cases stands at 13 percent, another significant decline from the previous day, when active cases made up 24 percent of all cases.

“We were able to remove several of the active cases due to meeting isolation requirements,” Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins said.

A total of 89 people have died while 3,391 people who had the virus have recovered. Four people have been reinfected. More than 24,500 residents have been tested.

Stanly’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate is at 10.8 percent, slightly below the state’s overall average of 11.1 percent.

There are also currently 12 people hospitalized. The total accounts for Stanly County patients hospitalized anywhere in the region, not just at Atrium Health Stanly. If people are really sick or need to be intubated, they often will be transported to hospitals in Concord or Charlotte.

Atrium Health Stanly is currently at 96 percent capacity in terms of available ICU beds, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Resources. The hospital’s capacity is higher than the state’s average of ICU beds, which is 82 percent. When last updated Dec. 21, the Times showed Atrium Stanly has 20 COVID-19 patients and no available ICU beds.

There will likely be a surge in new cases in the weeks after Christmas and New Year’s, similar to the spike in cases after other holidays like July 4 and Thanksgiving, officials said. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health and Human Services encourage people to stay at home for the holidays and only celebrate with people that they live with.

In the state’s COVID-19 risk map, which tracks how severe the pandemic is in each county, Stanly moved to the “red” zone this week, which signifies “critical community spread.” It was previously in the “orange” zone, which signifies “substantial community spread.” There are now 65 red counties this week, up from 48 two weeks ago. The only county in the area that’s not red is Anson, which is orange.

Below is a breakdown of the number of cases and deaths by municipality in Stanly, according to zip code data from the state Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Albemarle (28001): 1,691 cases and 60 deaths;
  • New London (28127): 702 cases and six deaths;
  • Norwood (28128): 395 cases and five deaths;
  • Locust (28097): 364 cases and zero deaths;
  • Oakboro (28129): 272 cases and four deaths;
  • Stanfield (28163): 230 cases and one death;
  • Richfield (28137): 164 cases and one death;
  • Badin (28009): No information for the town.

Statewide, there are has more than 488,902 total cases. There are a record 3,001 people hospitalized, almost double the number of people hospitalized at the same time last month, while 6,291 people have died.

Winter hours for the Stanly County Health Department COVID-19 Testing site at Stanly Commons began on Monday. The new hours are 12-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To schedule an appointment call 704-982-9171.

The health department will be closed on Dec. 24-25 as well as Jan. 1.

First vaccine doses administered in Stanly

But even with increasing numbers of cases, there is some hope. The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people, presumably health care workers, in Stanly County this week.

According to new state vaccination data, a total of 24 people in the county have received the first dose of the vaccine. The data doesn’t stipulate whether the vaccine was from Moderna or Pfizer, but both types require two doses, separated by at least 21 days after the first. In all, 24,500 people across the state have been administered the first dose of the vaccine.

Data for people who have received the second dose of the vaccine will be added in January.

“Our department is excited that local residents are beginning to receive their initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine,” Jenkins said. “The arrival of vaccines brings some hope to what has been a difficult year for our community.”

Hospitals in North Carolina received their first shipment from Pfizer last week, while the first shipments of the Moderna vaccine arrived in the state this week.

Atrium Health is planning on sending doses of the Moderna vaccine to several smaller facilities, including Atrium Health Stanly, in the coming weeks. Atrium received 100 vials, or about 1,000 doses, of the Moderna vaccine on Monday.

As part of the state’s vaccination plan, the first round of vaccines will all go to health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, along with long-term care staff and residents.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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